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Seeded bananas grow in bunches of 12 to 18 bananas with 5 to 7 hands or bunches per stalk. Each fruit has four distinct sides and tapers to a point at each end. The fruits can range in size from 20 to 30 centimeters long, depending on the amount of seasonal rain. The thick skins ripen from green to yellow and continue to ripen off the plant. The flesh is firm, fragrant and sweet and filled with small, rounded hard seeds.
Seeded bananas are available year-round in Indonesia.
Seeded bananas, otherwise known as Wild bananas or Stone bananas, are botanically classified as Musa balbisiana or Musa brachycarpa. All modern bananas and plantains are descended from this and another wild species, Musa acuminata. In Indonesia, where Seeded bananas are most likely spotted, they are referred to as Pisang Batu or Klutuk. The name Klutuk comes from the “klu-tuk” sound the seeds make against the teeth when they are eaten.
Seeded bananas are high in dietary fiber, potassium, and carbohydrates. They are also a good source of vitamins A and B. Young fruits are high in tannins and saponins.
Due to the number of seeds in Seeded bananas, they are not eaten like a seedless banana. Young Seeded bananas are peeled, deseeded and used to make sweet rujak, a traditional dish in Java with variations throughout Indonesia. The fruit salad is made with local cucumber, mango, carambola, apple or pear and is topped with a sweet, spicy sauce made from crushed peanuts, young Seeded banana meat, chiles, tamarind, fish sauce and sugar. Seeded bananas are thinly sliced so the stones are easily removed. Mature bananas are peeled, and the meat is separated from the seeds and used for baking and in beverages or smoothies. The local Javanese have used Seeded bananas for digestive troubles and stomach aches for centuries. Seeded bananas can be kept at room temperature for up to two weeks depending on state of maturity.
Wild bananas are very important to the health of the world’s banana crop. All modern commercially grown bananas are seedless and generally of one variety, cavendish, which can only be propagated through cuttings from a mother plant. All mother plants are at risk of a disease or pest that could potentially wipe them all out. Researchers depend on the wild bananas for genetic variation and the natural disease and pest resistance they developed over thousands of years of evolution. Creating hybrid banana varieties from wild and seedless varieties allows for greater variation of the species.
Seeded bananas are native to Southeast Asia, specifically Java and parts of Indonesia stretching east to the Philippines. Wild bananas like the Seeded banana were the early ancestors to the modern cavendish and other seedless varieties. In Indonesia, there is some variability among the M. balbisiana varieties like the black pseudostem of the Pisang Klutuk Wulung or Pisang Roti and Pisang Pataga which have smaller fruits and larger bunches. Outside of tropical Indonesia, Malaysia and Singapore, the wild banana species is limited to ornamental use in tropical and subtropical regions like Hawaii, New Guinea, Suriname, and India. They were introduced to Hawaii in the late 1800s from the Philippines. Seeded bananas are most likely spotted in markets in East Java and Kalimantan.